Cross-country in Norway

While Vancouver has been collectively biting its nails over a lack of snow recently, Norway is still heavily swathed in the stuff and could quite easily have filled in the gaps. Clearly, transporting several hundred tonnes of snow across to the other side of Canada could prove tricky, so the Canadians had to settle for a delivery of some of the world’s finest exponents of winter sports. At the time of writing there have been some notable Norwegian performances in the biathlon and the Ladies 10km Free Cross-country Skiing.

Anyone who has ever visited Norway will not find this at all surprising. After all, it is the birthplace of cross-country skiing. In this case necessity was the mother of invention, as the locals needed a little help getting around in winter. Everywhere you look there is a blank canvas of snow just waiting to have new trails drawn all over it. Not surprisingly, the children here can ski before they can toddle (well, almost!).

Lillehammer was the stage for the 1994 winter Olympics, when the cross-country skiing events were held at Sjusjoen, which still boasts some of the best trails in Europe, but this is by no means the extent of the terrain on offer. Norway has a landscape all of its own, characterized by frozen lakes, rolling fells and snow-laden trees. Winter lasts from October to May, offering visitors a unique combination of stunning scenery, tranquillity and hearty hospitality.

There are of course more metropolitan areas such as Oslo, but our centres in Kvitavatn, Rondablikk and Mosstrond have been chosen for their remote, high-mountain feel. Kvitavatn and Mosstrond are both on the edge of the massive Hardangervidda National Park in the Telemark region, while Rondablikk looks out across the equally vast Rondane National Park. The sheer amount of snow and variety of terrain on offer never ceases to surprise our guests, as does the accessibility of cross-country skiing itself.

Cross-country provides a fantastic aerobic workout, without the need to reach breakneck speeds. As confidence grows, the quiet exhilaration of gliding along pristine tree-lined tracks becomes truly addictive. Add to this the satisfaction of breaking trails in virgin snow across fields and lakes and you have an enticing combination that draws people back year after year.

Snowshoeing may not make it into the Russian Winter Olympics in four years time but it’s another great way to get out and experience the majesty of a Norwegian winter; just strap yourself in and the winter world is yours to discover. Armed only with a packed lunch and a flask of something warm, it’s easy to spend a whole day exploring. Sitting high up on a hillside, looking back across the path you’ve just made, or gazing out across the white wilderness, this feels a world away from the madness of the Alps. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and for a week or so, just for you.

By Tom Wilkinson, Exodus European Product Executive

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